I have just returned home after 2 months away. I recently attended the Maneuver Senior Leaders Course (MSLC) at Fort Benning Georgia. This is a course designed to teach and train senior enlisted infantry soldiers. As you may know the Army Infantry is restricted to men only and open transgender service is still a bit of a no-no.
So what was it like attending a 7 week males only course since coming out and living as a female? Well first of all I had to impersonate a cisgender male. What I mean is that I had to pretend I am not transgender or a woman. This sounds easy right? I mean I have lived as a man for decades.
Friends once you let the genie out of the bottle it's very hard to put it back in. I have known for most of my life that I am transgender, even while living as a man. When you decide to come out it becomes increasingly more difficult to "fake it". Not because of hormones or anything like that. Once you have lived authentically you never want to live any other way.
Sitting in a room with 20 infantry men you see and hear a lot. We have so far to go. Not just for the transgender community but also for women. The Department of Defense is working towards full gender inclusion in combat arms jobs next year. This means men and women will serve side by side. Over the last 2 months I have heard my peers make commonplace derogatory terms against both women and the LGBT community including most of the familiar transgender slurs that we are all familiar with. These men are leaders with between 10 and 16 years of service. They are parents, Christians, volunteers.
While hearing students speak like that was disturbing, hearing the cadre make similar statements was heart breaking.
Some time in the first few weeks of the course I came out as LGBT. For the sake of ambiguity I literally used the term "lgbt". I have to admit, one of my guilty pleasures is coming out to people after they have made an ass of themselves and then watching them feel like an asses. I wrote an essay for the course, which is featured on this blog. Needless to say I will not be a featured author for the Infantry Bugler. I hope, however, that I may have opened the eyes of the instructors at the school.
Other than talk, most of the time there were few limitations to my daily life. Classes were short and I didn't have any bathroom debacles. We wear a unisex uniform in the Army. I spent my nights and weekends living authentically, much as I do at home.
The biggest challenge was my time in the field. We trained for 3 days in what most would refer to as primitive conditions. No facilities to speak of. That week outlines so many of the issues to be worked out for full transgender inclusion. There are answers to all of those issues. There are already 18 countries who allow open transgender service. For this girl it was an interesting and eye opening experience. My hope is that it was eye opening for my peers and cadre as well.
Thanks for listening to me ramble. I have exciting things coming up and so much to talk about. Have a wonderful day everyone.
"Nothing is too girly and nothing is too masculine. But I do love color, and maybe that's a little girly - especially pink." Stacy London